Recorded incidents of bird of prey poisonings are at a record low in Scotland according to the latest figures.
The Partnership for Action Against Wildlife Crime (PAW), which comprises Police Scotland, land managers, conservationists and government agencies, say there was only one recorded case of bird of prey being poisoned in 2017. This is the lowest total in a single year since PAW Scotland began compiling data in 2004. Overall, there was a 36% fall in all recorded bird of prey crimes during 2017, falling from 14 in 2016 to 9.
However, despite fewer recorded incidents, satellite data from tagged raptors shows birds occasionally disappearing in unexplained circumstances. In some cases, persecution is suspected.
Species illegally killed in 2017 include buzzards, owls, and a hen harrier, while the golden eagle, osprey and merlin were victims of disturbance cases.
In addition to the poisoning incident, there were two shootings, two illegal trappings and three cases of disturbance.
Specific details of one of the bird of prey crimes are currently withheld for police operational reasons and is included in the figures.
Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham MSP said:
“While I welcome this further reduction in recorded bird of prey crimes, including our lowest ever total for poisoning incidents, reports from early 2018 indicate that this remains a problem in some parts of Scotland.
“It is extremely frustrating that some criminals continue to undermine the good work that has been done by conservationists and land managers in recent years, with much of that work being done through PAW Scotland.
“We recently provided additional resources to Police Scotland for the detection and investigation of wildlife crime and set up a review group to look at grouse moor management, including the potential for licensing this type of business.”
Kenneth Gibson MSP added:
“Although it is disappointing that there are still people out there who feel the need to harm these beautiful birds, I do find it heartening to see there has been such a significant decline.
“Nine wildlife crimes are nine too many and I am grateful to PAW Scotland for all the work they are doing to help protect our birds of prey.
“The only thing that needs to happen now is for those to stop killing these birds or face the consequences when caught.”